WHO: Rutgers Scarlet Knights (10-15 overall, 4-9 Big Ten)
WHEN: Sunday, February 12 at 2pm CT
WHERE: Carver-Hawkeye Arena (Iowa City, IA)
RADIO: Hawkeye Radio Network | Sirus/XM 109 or 196
C. Vivian Stringer is one of the greatest coaches in college basketball history, but it’s fair to say her time at Rutgers didn’t end the way she wished it would. Stringer took a leave of absence from the team ahead of the 2021-2022 season, and Rutgers fell significantly behind, reaching just 11-20 overall and 3-14 in conference.
Stringer then retired after the season and Rutgers replaced her with former Penn State coach Conquese Washington. So far, the transition has not gone smoothly. Rutgers had just eight players on their roster at the start of the year. Not eight health players. Eight players in total. I’ve never seen such a small squad. Unsurprisingly, Rutgers has struggled again this year, being only 10-15 in the year and 4-9 in conference play.
In a little bit of good news, all eight of those players managed to stay healthy. 7 out of 8 have played in all 25 games so far, and the eighth player has played in 24 out of 25.
Rutgers teams of recent years have been known for their defense. This team… it’s not. The Scarlet Knights come in at a dreadful 336th in Opponent’s Points per 100 Possessions. Rutgers doesn’t force a lot of turnovers, nor does it bounce the ball well.
And the offense isn’t much better. The Scarlet Knights rank 219th in points per 100 possessions and 335th in turnover rate, trading about 20% of their possessions. Rutgers shoots decently well from three and is a better offensive rebounding team than Iowa, but that’s really all they’re good at.
Frankly, given Rutgers’ poor metrics, it’s a little surprising that they’re 4-9 in conference games. That’s the same record as Penn State and Michigan State — and both teams appear to be significantly better. Rutgers also had an impressive win over Nebraska in early January.
THE BEST RUTGERS PLAYERS
Rutger’s top scorer this year is freshman Kaylene Smikle. Smikle – a 6’0″ guard – averages 17.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg and 1.8 spg. She shoots 36.7% from three but only 39.5% from two. She’s also averaging almost twice as many turnovers (4.1) as assists per game (2.1) Smikle’s strong freshman season should give Rutgers fans some hope for the future, but in the transfer portal era, they might also be concerned that a larger team could call.
Rutger’s second-best scorer is Senior Awa Sidibe. She averages 9.9 ppg and 5.3 rpg, but also has more turnovers per game (4.1) than assists (3.4). She also shoots just 11.1% of three, despite averaging less than one attempt per game.
KEY TO THE GAME
no hangover The Indiana game was tremendous and the Hawkeyes probably feel like they’re letting you get away with it given how close it was and the majority of the team didn’t play very well. Iowa needs to get over this loss and take care of business against Rutgers.